French ISP “Refusing” to Comply With “Three-Strikes?

French ISP “Refusing” to Comply With “Three-Strikes?

ISP Free refuses to send emails to customers warning them of suspected infringement, pointing out the law only requires it to turn over their identities to the authorities which, in turn, is the one responsible for contacting them.

Several days ago I mentioned how French ISPs Bouygues and Numericable earned the distinction of having been the first ISPs to send subscribers a letter warning them of suspected copyright infringing activity with Orange and SFR following soon thereafter. Well, not all ISPs have been so willing to comply.

The effort is part of the country’s “Creation and Internet” law, the controversial “three-strikes” measure to fight P2P in that country that was first proposed back in June of 2008. It was formally passed last September, but not after first before being ruled unconstitutional over the fact that an agency (HADOPI), and not a judge, was allowed to disconnect people from the Internet.

Free is apparently refusing to send emails to its customers warning them of suspected infringement, pointing out the law only requires it to turn over their identities to authorities which, in turn is the one responsible for contacting them.

“We do not send Hadopi emails,” it says.

“Obviously all the other operators have agreed to send the 1st email,” it adds. “They decided to collaborate, we limit ourselves just to respect the law.”

The law only provides a penalty of 1,500 euros per IP address an ISP refuses to identify, but spells out no punishment for those that refuse to send out email warnings to suspected file-sharers.

Article L331-25 of the Code of Intellectual Property reads:

When hearing of facts that could constitute a breach of the obligation under Article L. 336-3, the Commission for protection of rights can be sent to the subscriber, under its seal and on his behalf, electronically and through the person whose business is to provide access to services public communication line has a contract with the subscriber.

In other words it’s the Hadopi’s job to inform people “under its seal and on its behalf.”

Hadopi counters that “there is an obligation for every ISP to send emails” and that Free is obligated to comply.

Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterand is also unhappy with Free’s stance.

“The turnaround of Free, which on Monday decided not to proceed at this stage, to its customers warning messages in formal breach of its statutory duties, is unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement. “This, the minister strongly condemned, must end as soon as possible.”

It also warned of punishment for refusal to comply.

“Laws” Creation and Internet “, which established the framework necessary to long-term development of a legal abundant and quality, will be applied,” it adds. “A provider who fails to comply with its legal obligations should therefore bear the legal and financial consequences. A decree will specify shortly the sanctions in this context. ”

In any event, it would require at least a few weeks for the govt to review and amend the law to require ISPs to send emails on the govt’s behalf. In the meantime it looks as though file-sharing Free customers will remain email warning letter “free.”

Stay tuned.

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